A Look Back
Going to my first yoga festival, I anticipated the beautiful setting, great teachers and a weekend full of inspiring workshops. I was prepared to be humbled by the level of experience among attendees and to transition from my identity as a teacher into that of a student. What I did not expect when I signed up for the Cannon Beach Yoga Festival, however, was the palpable energy of love and warmth I felt as I arrived at the opening ceremony, suddenly surrounded by a powerful collection of heart-centered men and women.
It seems obvious that a yoga festival would draw individuals who live according to a shared practice and principle, but it never occurred to me that the quiet little host town of Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast would be saturated in a loving, kind and splendid energy throughout the weekend. The rare beauty of the place with its spectacular ocean views, walkable downtown center and the hospitable nature of the small community, made the charming sea village perfect for this intimate, boutique festival.
At this particular festival, renowned teachers, Annie Carpenter, Aadil Palkhivala and Sarahjoy Marsh taught to approximately 200 attendees in small classes of 15-30 students. Group meditations were led each morning by yoga therapist Kelly Ponzi and followed by classes like, Yoga Body Buddha Mind by author and founder of NYC’s OM Yoga Center, Cyndi Lee, Hips Extravaganza by Julie Gudmestad and my personal festival highlight, Imagination Yoga® for Kids by Portland’s fun and enthusiastic sister team, Jamie Hopkins and Jessica McClintic. I came away having rejuvenated my practice and with many things to impart to my own yoga community. I also came away with some tips and tricks to impart to anyone attending their first festival.
Pack as light as possible: I lugged around a heavy bag all weekend with one too many yoga mats (among other unnecessary items). It’s best to bring a lightweight travel mat and leave any extraneous items in the car or at the hotel.
Have a notebook handy: Fortunately, the Cannon beach Yoga Festival supplied its participants with a journal and pen. I utilized mine over and over again writing down new information or inspiration from festival speakers and teachers during class. You’ll also use it to collect contact information from people you meet.
Bring your own props: I brought with me two blocks, a strap and a blanket and used them all. I would also advise bringing lightweight foam blocks instead of heavy cork ones if possible, you don’t want to haul around a lot of unnecessary weight.
Pack snacks: There can be short breaks between classes, not leaving enough time for a full meal. Bring light snacks that won’t interfere with your practice or breathwork, and choose things like bananas, cheese, granola bars or grapes.
Take a folder or envelope: You’ll meet lots of people you want to connect with. Bring an envelope for collected materials like business cards and brochures for other programs you're interested in attending in the future.
Stray from your comfort zone: The advantage of traveling out of town for a yoga festival, is the opportunity to gain new experiences on and off the mat. Be open to trying new postures and learning different disciplines. Take classes from teachers you wouldn’t ordinarily get to learn from and classes that aren’t offered at your home studio.
Leave your ego behind: Yoga festivals draw heart-centered people who make it a priority to grow as individuals and practitioners. These festivals are not about what you’re wearing or showing off. Be humble and work on bettering yourself and make a point to learn from, not only new teachers, but other students.
Attending a yoga festival is a beautiful way to connect with respected teachers, participate in inspiring workshops and deepen your practice. “These kinds of experiences can lead to big shifts in people's lives. These shifts may not be immediately evident, but knowledge leads to growth and transformation.” Says Cannon Beach founder and director Christen Allsop. Whatever festival you attend, make knowledge your aim and be open to the many possibilities for growth.
Find information on next year’s Cannon Beach Yoga Festival, March 6-8, 2015 at cannonbeachyogafestival.com.
Have you attended a yoga festival and want to offer some advice to fellow yogis? Please share in the comments below!
Kristin Daemon is a yoga teacher, freelance writer and owner of Seaside Yoga, a new studio in the small town of Seaside, Oregon on the rugged Pacific Northwest coast. You can find and friend her on Facebook or check out and follow her blog, kristindaemon.com.
Images via: North Coast Citizen,